What if there was a way you could give yourself the best odds possible not to die from COVID-19? Would you do what you had to do?
What if you were told that if you are leery of the vaccine and are anti-mask you could still do things to reduce the severity of COVID illness although taking the vaccine enhances your odds for the best outcome even more?
The answer is not only surprisingly obvious for most of us but it also increases our chances of not dying from other viruses and diseases.
All most of us need to do is make lifestyle decisions that are key to reducing our odds of being obese, diabetic, developing cardiovascular disease, or suffering from chronic lung conditions.
Of the nearly 2,000 San Joaquin County residents that have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic started in March 2020, roughly 80 percent had one or more of the four conditions mentioned previously.
Clearly there are people who due to DNA and circumstances that are beyond their control who develop chronic lung disease, cardiovascular health issues or are obese.
And it goes without saying such information isn’t helpful to those already dealing with one of the four conditions although there are ways that many can reduce their susceptibility.
But it underscores one glaring omission from the non-stop hurricane of debate over how best to weather COVID-19 which is likely to stay around by reinventing itself like the flu does as well as best deal with future epidemics and pandemics. That omission is pursuing lifestyle choices that are clearly healthier that reduce our chances of dying from lung cancer, stroke, heart attack and such while increasing the odds we will die from the accumulative impact of aging.
And if we want to best protect our younger generation from developing such diseases we need to not just keep our schools open and eschew remote learning as a prolonged response for a pandemic but to step up public school efforts in physical education, nutrition, and healthy choices.
No one disputes studies that show pandemic lockdowns that led to lengthy forced remote learning as well as COVID protocols that are once again creating teacher shortages have resulted in a significant upswing in obesity among children.
Poor eating choices gained ground during the pandemic because they often weren’t countered by health school lunches and even breakfasts.
But perhaps the biggest drawback was the clamp down on physical activity.
Bad nutrition and inactivity lay the foundation for obesity and diabetes that are the “gateway maladies” for heart and lung disease. Such conditions are also fanned by drug abuse and other choices we make as we go through life.
However, in the context of public health policy and fighting back individual fears of contagious diseases the use of vaccines and masks aren’t the full equation.
Active lifestyles that concentrate on working lungs and strengthening hearts on a daily basis are clearly critical for the best health outcomes as we go through life.
Yet as experts have started talking about lessons we can take forward planning for the next pandemic, all of the focus has been on how to better do lockdowns and address vaccination wariness than strengthening the foundation for individual immunity which is basically healthier lifestyles.
This is not rocket science. It is not a magical pill. Nor is it something that you can do instantaneously from your smartphone as you order groceries or quick meals from DoorDash requiring no more than lifting your finger to tap a key pad.
Nor is it a sure thing.
But given what we know about those that have died from COVID as well as stroke, heart attacks, and lung diseases exercise and healthy eating immensely reduce the expose to death or bad outcomes from such diseases for the vast majority of people.
Viruses such as COVID are always going to kill people.
The key is to strengthen your hand as in building on your DNA through exercise and good health decisions to make sure you are positioned to deal with the cards you are dealt in life so you can secure the best outcomes.
Keep in mind death is inevitable just as it is inevitable that the house ultimately wins in the long haul. The best we can do is win when we can and keep playing as long as we can.
It is why the strategies employed to do well at cards such as determining the best course for the best outcome with the cards you hold employs the same general principles as decisions you make regarding your health.
If you’re playing 21 and the dealer is showing a 6 and you’re holding a 10 and an 8 are you’re going to take a hit?
You don’t need a government edict to tell you that’s foolhardy.
The odds are you are going to beat the dealer. There is, of course, the chance the dealer will beat 18 but the odds of that happening are comparatively small with the hand you’ve been dealt and if you play in a way to make sure you can benefit from the best possible outcome,
Your health and more specifically how your prospects of dealing with COVID shape up depend on how you play your hand.
Ultimately the house just like death will prevail. It’s inevitable. But most of us have the power to make our own luck. If you play your hands in a manner to enhance the edge you may have been dealt or blunt the negative card combinations you received you can prevail unscathed or a winner from a round at the table and play another day. But if you keep squandering your hand and ignore basic ways to avoid going bust repeatedly you’re not going to last long in the game.
And while you can still bluff your way for a while by acting like you hold the aces, you are only fooling yourself.
Bluffing only gets you so far in cards or in dealing with COVID-19. It doesn’t enhance your odds of securing the best possible outcome. That’s why you need to play smart.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org